Afghanistan is affecting us


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/09/2021 (630 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

We have all been very surprised by the rapidity with which the Taliban took over Afghanistan – even before the United States was fully withdrawn from the country.

The recent rally for Afghanistan on the steps of the Manitoba Legislature drew many. From those who were there, I learned of the raw fear that the Taliban will limit the opportunities for and the potential of women.

I learned of the awakening that has happened in Afghanistan during the last 20 years – and about the generation of people who grew up in a more liberated world.

Supplied photo Members of the local Afghan community and other concerned Manitobans recently rallied in support of the Afghan people in the wake of the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.

Since the rally, I have been surprised bythe number of people whose families came from Afghanistan who have come to my River Heights constituency office to ask for help. While I am a provincial politician, when I have people coming to my office, I do my best to help, even if it is more of a federal issue.

But I have learned from the Manitobans who have come to my office. These are people whose home country was Afghanistan and is now Canada. They are hard workers. They include a woman who works at a bank not far from my constituency office; a woman who works in day care; another who works for the federal government; and a man who trained as an architect and now has a senior project management role on a major Winnipeg project.

Each has their own story, and each has a story of family members in difficulty in Afghanistan.
I sit down with each person and try to understand how I can help. I listen to their stories. One has a family member who was killed by the Taliban when he stood up for women in Afghanistan. Another has two close relatives who are missing and whose whereabouts are unknown. Others have relatives in hiding and trying to escape from persecution by the Taliban.

Sometimes Afghanistan seems far away, but I have come to realize that we have many people in our community who have come from there. They are living among us doing jobs and contributing to our community just like so many other Canadians. They are ready to support and sponsor their relatives to come to Winnipeg because they know their relatives need to escape Afghanistan. They know that when their relatives come to Winnipeg, they will be hard workers and will soon be self-sufficient in Winnipeg.

I have been writing letters to the federal ministers of foreign affairs and immigration. I am glad that they are willing to listen and to try to help. I hope they will be able to help these terrified people. Even if they are far away, we can but try to do our best to help the relatives of those who live or work in River Heights and elsewhere in Winnipeg.

Jon Gerrard

Jon Gerrard
River Heights constituency report

Jon Gerrard is Liberal MLA for River Heights.

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